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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Social Networks 3.0

Social Networks 3.0

Let me simply start with this. I am a huge fan of the fabric of social networking. I believe that it makes up a crucial piece of the online communication that is driving the consumer web experience. But I do think that social networks have undergone an significant and important evolution, even since 2004, which will continue to pay dividends for end users.

For what it is worth, to my mind we are now experiencing Social Networks 3.0.

Social Networks 1.0 were built during the late 1990s to enable the initial set of consumer services that created such excitement about the promise of the web. Services like eGroups/OneList, ICQ, Evite and many many more relied upon groups of users organizing and communicating on the web through coordinated networks. Those networks were not explicitly described as such but they were the underpinnings of these communications platforms.

Social Networks 2.0 began in the early 2000s when entrepreneurs got to thinking about the nature of their online networks and the power that could come of making those networks explicit. Services like Friendster, Tribe, Orkut, LinkedIn, Spoke emerged to allow users to organize their recreational and business networks. The focus of those services as they were first built was to enable the creation, growth and management of an explicit social network. In other words, the consumer experience of Social Networks 2.0 was around the creation and discovery of the network itself, rather than a particular use of that network.

I believe that we are now in Social Networks 3.0. After a fair bit of excitement and energy around pure play social networks, it became clear that the building and management of a social network was not, in and of itself, a compelling consumer experience. In a nod back to the earliest instantiations of social networking, entrepreneurs have come to realize that social networks are enablers of other compelling consumer experiences. Thus, social networks are becoming an important ingredient of all sorts of consumer experiences. Social networks inform the conversations that take place among friends on LiveJournal. Social networks enable the discovery of new music on MySpace. Social networks enhance the multi-player gaming experience at Xfire. Social networks now empower recruiting on LinkedIn. And dozens of new social networks are emerging to enable specific, valuable consumer experiences that are enhanced by the underpinnings of the network.

I am more than a little excited about Social Networks 3.0 because I believe that social networking will be a crucial element of virtually all online consumer experiences going forward. And truly compelling online consumer experiences will always make successful companies. Thus, I look forward to seeing how social networking continues to evolve. I see great things in the future for Social Networking 4.0, whatever that ends up being.

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Social Networks, market segmentation in real time

Social Networks, market segmentation in real time

In a New York Times article dated October 31. called "computing 2016: What won't be possible?"

But with the rise of the Internet, social networks and technology networks are becoming inextricably linked, so that behavior in social networks can be tracked on a scale never before possible.

“We’re really witnessing a revolution in measurement,” Dr. Kleinberg said.

The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?

Social networking research promises a rich trove for marketers and politicians, as well as sociologists, economists, anthropologists, psychologists and educators.

For marketers, this is fascinating. Some day, when we are able to see buying patterns in real time through social network analysis, marketing will be performed the same way as a weather forecast. The implications in politics is also amazing. I wonder why so few global companies actually invest part of their marketing and R&D budget in trying to understand those things.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

MyBlogLog from yahoo Is Very Cool

MyBlogLog from yahoo Is Very Cool

On MyBlogLog you take all the people who read your blog and allow them to connect to your blog as a community.

Once you sign up, you are added to blogs that you've viewed at least 10 times. You can change this in the settings, if you want, but I think 10 is a good number to show real interest in a blog.

Here's a write up that Mashable did on it. And, today I noticed that ReadWriteWeb had also written a piece on MyBlogLog.

Note one of the comments on Mashable's June post from a MyBlogLog insider:

We’re not making any effort to hide MyBlogLog communities, but we’re also not really telling anyone about it yet. We’re oldschool beta and still a ways away from delivering a complete experience.

If this was all we had up our sleeve, I’d completely agree with you — what the world needs now is not another generic social network. We’ve got a couple more weeks of serious work tying together the existing MyBlogLog capabilities with our new Communities framework. In the not too distant future, you can look forwad to a much greater intimacy with your readers.

It really is a neat little webapp. Oddly enough, Mashable has taken it out of the sidebar. Not sure if that says anything though, it could be that the real estate in that sidebar is worth too much for a social (but not lucrative) space invader.

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Social Networking news and information

Google Blog Search overtakes Technorati's market share

Google Blog Search overtakes Technorati's market share according to Hitwise

Google Blog Search has overtaken Technorati's market share in the United States according to LeeAnn Prescott of Hitwise. The success of the Google Blog Search is hand-in-hand with Google leveraging existing properties such as Google News and the Google homepage to drive traffic to its new property. Google Blog Search launched in September 2005.

Hitwise market share Technorati Google Blog Search late 2006

Technorati is the green line above, and Google Blog Search is shown in purple. Google Blog Search received a huge traffic boost in October after blog search appeared as an option on Google News pages. Google Blog Search later received a spot on the front page of, gaining the top spot on the expanded "more" services menu.

Google homepage showing search dropdown

The dreaded Google search box or Google OneBox integration can be a death blow to many Internet startups. Google Blog Search is now better able to tap into Google's over 108 million unique users in the United States, delivering a targeted and very focused index.

Age breakdown of US visitors to Technorati and Google Blog Search

I was especially surprised by Hitwise's estimate of the age breakdown of Google Blog Search and Technorati. Google Blog Search is most popular with users age 18-24 while Technorati is most popular with users 35-44. The Hitwise age group breakdowns are similar to comScore numbers from June placing 36% of Technorati's users between 35 and 54 years of age even though 30% of Technorati's traffic was from MySpace at the time.

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Niall Kennedy's Weblog

Google Reader API

Google Reader API

Google Reader

Google Reader is an online feed aggregator with heavy use of JavaScript and pretty quick loading of the latest feed data from around the web. Google's AJAX front-end styles back-end data published in the Atom syndication format. The data technologies powering Google Reader can easily be used and extended by third-party feed aggregators for use in their own applications. I will walk you through the (previously) undocumented Google Reader API.

Update 10:40 p.m.:Jason Shellen, PM of Google Reader, called me to let me know that Google built its feed API first and the Google Reader application second as a demonstration of what could be done with the underlying data. Jason confirmed my documentation below is very accurate and Google plans to release a feed API "soon" and perhaps within the next month! Google Reader engineer Chris Wetherell has also confirmed the API in the comments below.

A reliable feed parser managed by a third party lowers the barrier to entry of new aggregator developers. Google and its team of engineers and server clusters can handle the hard work of understanding feeds in various formats and states of validation, allowing developers to focus on the interaction experience and other differentiating features. You can also retrieve and synchronize feed subscription lists with an established user base that could be in the millions, providing a better experience for users on multiple devices and platforms. Google Reader's "lens" provides only one view of the available data.

Google Reader users are assigned a 20-digit user ID used throughout Google's feed system. No cookies or session IDs are required to access this member-specific data. User-specifc data is accessible using the cookie named "SID."

Feed retrieval


Google converts all feed data to Atom regardless of its original publication format. All RSS feed post content appears in the summary element and unlike the My Yahoo! backend I found no additional metadata about the feed containing full posts but Google does publish content data where available.

You may request any feed from the Google Reader system using the following URL structure:

You may specify the total number of feed entries to retrieve using the n parameter. The default number of feed items returned is 20 (n=20).

Google strips off all the data it does not render in Reader. Stripped data includes namespaced data such as Apple iTunes podcast data and Yahoo! Media RSS, additional author data such as e-mail and home URL, and even copyright data.

Subscription list

/reader/atom/user/[user id]/pref/

Google Reader's feed subscription list contains a user's current feed subscriptions as well as past deleted subscriptions. Each feed is contained in an entry complete with feed URL, published and updated dates, and user-specific tags, if present. Current subscriptions are categorized as a reading list state. You may request the full list of feeds by setting the complete to true.

Here is a copy of my Google Reader subscription list with my user ID zeroed out. I am not subscribed to my RSS feed (index.xml) and I have added tags to my Atom feed. Each listed feed contains an author element which appears to be empty regardless of declarations within the original feed. Perhaps Google plans to add some feed claiming services, but its own Google blog has no affiliated author information.

Reading list

/reader/atom/user[user id]/state/

My favorite feature of the Google Reader backend is direct access to a stream of unread entries across all subscribed feeds. Google will output the latest in a "river of news" style data view.

Here is a sample from my limited subscription set. You may specify the total number of entries you would like Google to return using the n parameter -- the default is 20 (n=20).

Read items only[user ID]/state/

You can retrieve a listing of read items from Google Reader. You might want to analyze the last 100 items a user has read to pull out trends or enable complete search and this function may therefore be useful. You may adjust the number of items retrieved using the n parameter -- the default is 20 (n=20).

Reading list by tag

/reader/atom/user/[user id]/label/[tag]

You may also view a list of recently published entries limited to feeds of a certain tag. If you have tagged multiple feeds as "marketing" you might want to request just the latest river of news for those marketing feeds. The returned feed contains both read and unread items. Read items are categorized as read (state/ if you would like to hide them from view. The number of returned results may be adjusted using the n parameter.

Starred items only

/reader/atom/user[user id]/state/

Google Reader users can flag an item with a star. These flagged items are exposed as a list of entries with feed URL, tags, and published/updated times included. You may specify the total number of tagged entries to return using the n parameter -- the default value is 20 (n=20).

Google treats starred items as a special type of tag and the output therefore matches the tag reading list.

Add or delete subscriptions


You may add any feed to your Google Reader list using the Google Reader API via a HTTP post.

  • /reader/api/0/edit-subscription -- base URL
  • ac=["subscribe" or "unsubscribe"] -- requested action
  • s=feed%2F[feed URL] -- your requested subscription
  • T=[command token] -- expiring token issued by Google. Obtain your token at /reader/api/0/token.

Add tags


You may also add tags to any feed or individual item via a HTTP post.

  • /reader/api/0/edit-tag -- base URL
  • s=feed%2F[feed URL] -- the feed URL you would like to tag
  • i=[item id] -- the item ID presented in the feed. Optional and used to tag individual items.
  • a=user%2F[user ID]%2Flabel%2F[tag] -- requested action. add a tag to the feed, item, or both.
  • a=user%2F[user ID] -- flag or star a post.
  • T=[special scramble] -- three pieces of information about the user to associate with the new tag. Security unknown and therefore unpublished.


It is possible to build a your own feed reader on top of Google's data with targeted server calls. You can power an application both online and offline using Google as your backend and focus on building new experiences on top of the data. Advanced functionality is available with a numeric Google ID and some variable tweaks.

Google has built the first application on top of this data API, the Google Reader lens, and judging from their choice of URLs the lens may not be Google's last application built on this data set. I like the openness of the data calls and think the Google Reader APIs are simple enough to bootstrap a few new applications within Google or created by third-party developers.

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Niall Kennedy's Weblog